Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Building our new NGR Core Scanning Facility … by Dr Magret Damaschke

RXCT training course at the NGR Core Scanning Facility
Building our new NGR Core Scanning Facility … by Dr Magret Damaschke

My role at the British Geological Survey (BGS) is to deliver and supervise our new Core Scanning Facility at the National Geological Repository (NGR) in Keyworth.

It has been exciting start, as we prepare to open this facility for business in summer 2018.

Funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), the UK Geoenergy Observatories (UKGEOS) aim to facilitate world-leading research into UK’s sub-surface environment (read the science plan). UKGEOS allocated £1.4 million to create this new, state-of the art core scanning facility equipped with four high-resolution and automated core scanner systems for core imaging and non-destructive core analysis.

With these new capabilities whole, split, or slabbed rock and sediment cores can be continuously scanned to provide initial information on the geophysical, mineralogical, and geochemical characteristics of the core, record core quality and fundamental variations downcore, and allow high-definition optical, near-infrared (NIR), ultraviolet (UV), and X-radiographic images to be taken. These techniques minimise the need for destructive sampling and will enable scientist to target specific areas of interest for effective sub-sampling procedures.


BGS takes great pride in purchasing from two market-leading analytical equipment suppliers: Geotek Ltd. and Cox Analytical Systems; both renowned for their cutting edge technologies that greatly contribute to scientific- and industrial-based applications.

Instruments that have been purchased for the NGR Core Scanning Facility include:

• Geotek Multi-Sensor Core Logger (MSCL-S)
• Geotek Rotating X-Ray CT Scanner (MSCL-RXCT)
• Geotek XRF Core Workstation (MSCL-XYZ)
• COX  XRF Tray Scanner (newly designed instrument)

Geotek Ltd. delivered the first two core scanners (MSCL-S and -RXCT) to the newly refurbished core scanning facility on 26th March 2018. Heavy instrument parts, weighting up to 1.3- ton, were carefully manoeuvred through the narrow corridors and installed by the experienced team. Afterwards, BGS staff members were trained to understand all the components and system parts, and on how to use the software to acquire, process and manage data.

MSCL-S and RXCT delivery and installation by Geotek Ltd.
Geotek Rotating X-ray CT Scanner (MSCL-RXCT)

The RXCT Scanner
We will be using the MSCL-RXCT to visualise and record internal structures present within the core to determine core quality, heterogeneity, and fracture network. The rotating source-detector assembly allows linear and rotational scans to be realised, which makes it a valuable tool to users who wish to extend from general 2D X-Ray radiographic core imaging to 3D X-Ray CT reconstructions. A digital rock software package (PerGeos) will help users to visualize, process, and rapidly interpret the digital core imagery.

Geotek Multi-Sensor Core Logger (MSCL-S)

Typical MSCL-S data set display
The MSCL-S will be used for ultra-high definition core images and geophysical analyses, including gamma density, magnetic susceptibility, non-contact electrical resistivity, P-wave velocity, colour spectrophotometry (including NIR), and natural gamma activity. This data will give scientist the opportunity to:
• Generate bulk density, porosity, salinity, and/or P-wave velocity profiles
• Map core quality, heterogeneity, and lithology variations downcore (e.g., grain-size, texture, colour)
• Estimate water-content and permeability
• Identify compositional changes (biogenic vs. terrigenous)
• Recognise fundamental features (e.g., gassy soils, cemented horizons, erosion surfaces, clay-rich layers, radioactive material, turbidites, tephra, detritus, etc.)
• Implement core-to-core and/or core-to-log correlations, and lateral correlation between core locations
• Provide information on the stratigraphic framework when logging has failed during exploration
• Catalogue and archive

Looking ahead, the delivery and installation of the COX Tray Scanner will be expected to take place at the beginning of May, shortly followed by the arrangement of the Geotek MSCL-XYZ.

The new opportunity

Once up and running, the NGR Core Scanning Facility will give scientists, academics and commercial companies the opportunity to facilitate outstanding scientific projects and add significantly to the general drill core data acquisition and exploration procedures. Compared with traditional analytical methods, these approaches greatly reduces the time, cost, and destructive nature of sampling.

Why slab it, when you can scan it!

Special thanks goes to the BGS Facility Management Team who completed reconstruction and enhancement of the existing facility, as well as the BGS Systems and Network Support Team who managed network connection, data storage and any other organisation needs.
For more information please contact me under


  1. Good too see the core scanning facility up and running - a long overdue addition to the BGS core storage area. Having used a hand-held 1960s era PIF (with Fe55 source (I think)) to measure Barium in core nearly 40 years ago the ability to do that and much more - safely! - is excellent. May it be well used.
    Tim Colman BGS (retired)

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